Keeler Notes: grasshopper bites tavern

The British cannonball lodged in a museum corner post has been attracting considerable attention since — well, since the April 27, 1777, Battle of Ridgefield, when its impact reportedly shifted the building on its foundation. And, legend has it, another shot passed through the legs of a gentleman climbing an interior staircase, leaving him uninjured but briefly unhinged.

For years, we believed the missiles had been fired by a shipboard cannon, one that was hauled overland from the British beachhead in Westport to the raid on Danbury, and then to our own Main Street, where it was aimed at patriot Timothy Keeler’s home and business.

Research by Dave Daubenspeck, husband of retired Ridgefield librarian Anita, suggests another, and more plausible, possibility: The roughly three-pound cannonball was probably fired from a field artillery piece nicknamed the Grasshopper. It earned that description because of its insect-like appearance: handspikes inserted into the gun carriage permitted the light cannon to be moved and maneuvered by a small crew of men, even over difficult terrain. Its jump backward as it recoiled contributed to the grasshopper image.

On Saturday, April 29, the town is celebrating the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield. The museum will be open for free tours that day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This should give you enough time to check out the cannonball and hear its story as told by Timothy Keeler.